I still have friends that aren’t on Twitter, or don’t use it very much. I think they’re like many people who are missing out, but I understand that’s only because they don’t understand the value it might have for them. So I decided to write this post to see about ‘educating’ people who just don’t get it yet.
Now, I know many of these people might not think they need ‘educating’, that their life is perfectly fine without Twitter. But that’s also what they said about the internet back in the mid-90’s. “Why would I need to be on the internet? I have TV, newspapers, magazines…”
And businesses! “Why would I need to be on the internet? I have a perfectly good entry in the phone book…”
We can laugh about the past (and often do), but exactly the same thing is happening today. Instead of ‘the internet’, however, it’s ‘social media’ (eg. Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
“Why would I want to be on Twitter? I have a perfectly good life without it!”
Yeh, just like how you had a perfectly good life before the internet came along, before you could send texts on mobile phones, and before email…
People don’t realise how valuable something is to them until they experience it for themselves. That’s why you should get on it now and start experiencing!
Twitter started out with some tedious crap being mentioned through it, and as a result, many people think that’s all it’s about, and they just don’t want to know what someone ‘had for breakfast’, etc. Yeh, I know… there really was some stupid things being said on Twitter back in the day.
And sure, there really is some stupid things being said on it today! But there are a lot more people using it today, and a lot more options for people to read things of value.
Twitter works by following people. That’s it. You choose to follow people, and if you can see they are talking crap, then you just don’t need to follow them.
You can follow your friends or acquaintances, and you can follow anyone else that’s saying things that might be of interest to you. (Messages sent on Twitter are called ‘tweets’, and I’ll call them by that name from now on.)
For example, Lance Armstrong, world famous cyclist, is on Twitter (http://twitter.com/lancearmstrong) and he tweets about information that is relevent to his cycling, cancer, or various things he’s doing in his life. Anyone that’s into cycling or trying to understand his personal fight with cancer would get a lot of value from following Lance.
Twitter allows people to become teachers and students, by allowing them to share what they know with the world, and allow people to follow them and learn from them. It allows people to gain new understandings, and even to gain new friends.
How do you gain new friends? Think about this. Let’s say you follow Lance Armstrong because you’re a cyclist and you’re interested in what he has to say. As he tweets things via Twitter, he also ‘retweets’ messages (re-sends someone else’s messages) from other people that he finds interesting. You read it and think the message is interesting, informative or funny, so you check out this other person’s Twitter page, you like what you read, and decide to follow them too.
So now you’ve just added someone new to the list of people you’re following. Let’s say they’re actually in your town or area, and they’re looking for other cyclists to go cycling with. Voila! Twitter gives you potential new friends who are interested in the same things you are.
You can adjust this analogy for anything, whether it’s cycling, reading, driving, camping, walking, sailing, movies, parties, dinners out, etc etc. Whatever you’re interested in, you can talk about it, or you can follow others who are talking about it, and you can end up meeting new people as a result.
Or at least learn new things.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t need to use it to meet new people, I’m just saying it can enhance your social life. That’s why it’s called ‘Social Media’, because it brings people together physically or virtually. Many friends on the internet can be people you’ll never meet in real life, but communicating with them or taking in what they communicate to the world can be highly rewarding.
You can also use Twitter to follow the news, weather, traffic reports, real-time updates from gossip magazines, etc etc. Anything you can think of, you can get information about it. Or, if no one is doing it yet, then you can start doing it yourself!
Fill a niche, get a lot of followers. Link back to a website you run, and increase the number of visitors to your website. You can generate bigger and better discussions, or even revenue if you’re selling something.
Regarding following the news… I was following the conflict between Georgia and Russia last year, and was aware of what was happening in that part of the world before the mainstream news had a hold of it. Twitter can keep you informed.
It can also allow you to simply connect with other people in places that you normally wouldn’t think about connecting. Let’s say you’ve just landed at an airport and you’ve got some time to wait for your connecting flight. So you tweet, “At Sydney airport for next 4 hours.”
Someone else who’s waiting for their flight gets your message because they just happen to be one of your followers, and decides it would be nice to catch up for a drink while waiting. So they send you a reply and you get together for a drink in the airport lounge. Both of you have just used Twitter to make a connection, in a place that you never would have had the opportunity to do so – if it wasn’t for Twitter.
Would you have texted them? Phoned them? You wouldn’t even know them if it wasn’t for Twitter. But you’re already connected because of a common interest that’s brought you together through the tweets you’re all sending out.
If you have a question about something, you can ask it in Twitter, and everyone that’s following you can see your question and you can quickly get an answer.
All your tweets are sent out to the Twitter network as well (unless you’ve locked your messages as private, but that just defeats the purpose of using an open communications tool), so you can even get replies from people you don’t know, but who can help you with your question. And if you like their tweets, you can follow them and they can do the same back.
You don’t need to follow everyone that follows you. It’s great that they might be getting something of value from your tweets, but if you don’t think there’s anything of value for you, then just don’t follow back. It’s ok! And you won’t get any of their tweets at all.
You control the flow of information you receive. If anyone you follow suddenly ceases to be of value (eg. they might send hundreds of irrelevant messages in a day), then you can just Unfollow them, and you won’t be bothered by them any more.
It’s ok to do that! They’re not notified of this, and it’s not considered rude to Unfollow people. You’re in control of your Twitter experience.
Twitter can replace email. Why send an email when you can communicate short messages via Twitter? The more of your friends you get onto Twitter, the less you need to email. You’ll also become closer to them, because you’ll be learning more about each other from Twitter than you would if you occasionally meet up once a month or so over a drink…
You can check your Twitter updates or tweet your own updates via the Twitter website, or any number of desktop applications or phone applications. There are options available for anyone.
No matter how you look at it, Twitter can be a valuable tool to help you learn new things about what interests you. It can entertain you with humour (Wil Wheaton and Brent Spiner, for example, are some of the funniest people I know on Twitter), inform you of news updates, or connect you with your friends or help you make new friends.
So hurry up and get onto Twitter now, and make sure you start following me (http://twitter.com/AlanzEyes). Send me a message and say hi, and tell me you found me from my blog. I’ll always say hi back!
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